The Greenius Goes Into Overdrive

The Greenius in Yosemite

As the climate change crisis goes from bad to worse (while the deniers get nuttier and more cult-like with each passing day) and Australia gives Californians an advanced sneak preview at what is without a doubt headed our way sooner than you expect, your Creative Greenius has only gotten more Fired Up, Ready to Go!

That’s right my friends, while others are cutting back, downsizing, slowing down and pulling back, your Creative Greenius is not only Ready to Go, I’m already going, baby, and I’m moving at Obama speed.

So buckle up and hang on while I take you for a little trip with the Greenius to the places I’ve been and the places I’m going…

My First Solar PV Install

Last month, I completed my GRID Alternatives volunteer training in San Diego and this Monday and Tuesday I’ll be in El Cajon, California as one of the volunteers installing a solar PV system on a new Habitat for Humanity home.  I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to work with both GRID Alternatives and Habitat for Humanity and even happier to be contributing to a deserving family’s better future.


As regular Creative Greenius readers have learned, GRID Alternatives is a nonprofit organization that installs solar panels on low-income housing in California.

And of course as the Solangelist in training, this hands-on installation experience is going to be GOLDEN.  I’m also anxious to see from the inside how the use of volunteers working with team leaders on a residential solar install goes, since that’s a model I’ll be employing in my Raise the Roof initiative. You can count on a special report from me with photos after the job – I’m expecting this to be just the first of many GRID Alternatives installs I work on.

Manhattan Beach Environmental Task Force

click on the graphic to download the Manhattan Beach Green book

I’ll be back in time for this month’s Manhattan Beach Environmental Task Force meeting and if you’d like to see what effective environmentalism looks like on the local South Bay scene you might want to join me on the third Thursday of every month at the the Manhattan Beach Police and Fire Facility Community Room at 420 15th Street.

If you live in the city of Exxon/Mobil – I mean, Torrance, it will seem like an alternative universe full of knowledgeable, hard-working, committed, productive  people in stark contrast to their mirror opposites on the Torrance Environmental Commission.

In Manhattan Beach I’ve been watching the four committees of the ETF present their recommendations for the city council on water, waste, building and climate change.  Their presentations have been thorough, comprehensive, well-researched and well presented.

Geoff Dolan, City Manager of Manhattan Beach

The interaction between the citizen volunteers and Manhattan Beach city staff, along with Mayor Portia Cohen and Councilman Mitch Ward, is sharp and relevant and at the same time warm, friendly and casual.

City Manager Geoff Dolan impresses me as a particularly valuable city asset.  He’s a good guy who clearly knows his stuff both at the city level and from a bigger picture.

He’s clearly not paying lip service to environmentalism, he’s making it work to Manhattan Beach’s great advantage.

If you’d like to join me at the monthly MB ETF meetings, you should contact Sona Kalapura to RSVP or with any questions you might have.  You can sign up on Manhattan Beach’s eNews website to receive email notifications about upcoming meetings.

Environmental Priorities Network

I’ve now attended the last two EPN monthly meetings as a member and I’ve happily taken on a few areas of responsibility – I’m building a web site for the group, volunteering at the upcoming May 16 Solar Homes Tour, writing the Solar PV fact sheet for the tour, and manning the EPN booth at the April 18 Earth Day Event at Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach.

The EPN has been around since 2001 and to be honest, I should have gotten involved with them a long time ago.  I don’t know what took me so long.  They’re doing some of the best environmental work in the South Bay and they’re doing it with a small group of dedicated, hard-working volunteers.

epn-logo1The EPN has been doing the job our local governments have failed to do – they’re educating the public about the scientific facts about energy, about transportation, about waste, about water, about pollution and most of all about climate change.  They’re telling the truth and they’re speaking that truth to power without fear.

The biggest attribute of this glorious South Bay is our environment.  And it needs to be THE priority – not the multimillion-dollar glory mansions, not the ego cars, not the toys, the clothes or the life style.  It’s the environment – the sun, the air, the water, the land.

Only the EPN makes the environment a priority where I live and it’s why I’ve made volunteering for the Environmental Priorities Network MY priority.

One of my goals for 2009 is to double the membership of the EPN and I ask you to literally join me and my fellow EPN environmental activists.

mule_2If you’re not already a member of the EPN, you’ve run out of time and you’ve run out of excuses if you live around these parts.

The truth is, you’re either with us, or you’re against us.  There’s no neutral side in this battle.  There is no opting out, kids

So pony up your $12 and help us beat the carbon collaborators and global warming deniers like a rented mule.

South Bay Environmental Services Center

sbesc-with-cog-underneathI continue to volunteer for the SBESC and will be doing community awareness and outreach at several Earth Day Events – so why not come out and meet the Greenius and get yourself a free CFL light bulb, a low flow showerhead or a faucet aerator?  I’ll be happy to pose for a photo with you and answer your most burning environmental questions at the following Earth Day appearances:

•    Friday, April 17 – 10am to 2pm – Earth Day at American Honda HQ in Torrance (employees only)
•    Saturday, April 18 – 11am to 4pm – 9th Annual Earth Day @ Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach
•    Wednesday, April 22 – 10am to 1pm – Earth Day at Toyota HQ in Torrance (employees only)
•    Saturday, April 25 – 10am to 3pm – Earth Day at Sea Lab in Redondo Beach

pg_logoThe SBESC just keeps growing and offering more valuable services for citizens throughout the South Bay.  The MTA just became a new partner and is now offering great van pool services for South Bay commuters.

I’m also proud to say that thanks to a proposal I made to Marilyn Lyons, Program Manager of the SBESC, and Jacki Bacharach, the Executive Director of the SBESC, the Environmental Services Center is now offering printer cartridge recycling through Planet Green Recycling.  Look for the brown cardboard recycling boxes to start popping up all over the South Bay.

The SBESC just moved into new offices in Lawndale and they’re now located at 15901 Hawthorne Blvd, Suite 400.  It’s the big office building at the intersection of the 405 and Hawthorne.  If you’d like to volunteer with us, give Martha Segovia a call at 310-371-7222 ext. 209.

Using AB 811 To Finance Solar PV Installation: Finding the Green to Green the Grid, House By House

using-ab-811-to-finance1As the Solangelist, it’s my calling to spread the adoption and installation of solar PV to every roof in California – it’s why I’m learning to install solar PV systems, why I’m working with GRID Alternatives to install solar PV on low income, inner city housing, and why I created the Raise the Roof initiative.

And it’s why I’ve been writing about California’s AB 811 since September of 2008.

AB 811 allows cities and counties to form special assessment districts for the purpose of giving property owners loans to pay for solar PV systems and other energy efficient improvements.  The loans are for 20 years and paid off as a property tax assessment.

It’s a great new law, but coming as it does in the middle of our Not So Great Depression, most cities have no money to fund the loans.

But the Solangelist wasn’t about to let that stop me.  I started digging and researching and I found the money that any of our cities in the South Bay – or throughout the great state of California – can use to fund and operate their AB 811 loan programs.

Last week I put together a simple and easy-to-understand Keynote (the same software Al Gore used to put together An Inconvenient Truth) presentation explaining it all, and a 286 page e-book in PDF form with all the background, research, analysis, and press reporting on the funding available and the different California cities currently using it to make loans funding solar PV systems.

I’ll be making my first presentation to the SBESC in hopes that they endorse and embrace the presentation and we can then bring it to the 16 cities of the South Bay Council Of Governments through the Green Task Force.  I’m looking forward to sharing it with Marilyn and Jacki next week.

I’ll let you know how that goes…


Free, Clean, Renewable Electricity From The Wind: Visiting PacWind with Dency & J.R.

large2Our friends in Hermosa Beach have been greening their building codes and making great progress thanks to the drive, patience and perseverance of longtime South Bay environmentalist, Hermosa Beach resident, Dency Nelson.

The city is now considering the issue of home-based wind power systems like vertical axis turbines like those made by Torrance’s PacWind.  You may have seen their Sea Hawk product on Living with Ed on TV, when Ed Begley Jr. had one installed on his Studio City home.

Many of us who live near the beach and experience the daily afternoon winds that kick up with regularity, have thought about capturing that free energy to turn into electricity.

So I jumped at the opportunity when Dency invited me to tag along with him and Hermosa Beach City Councilman, J.R. Reviczky last Monday morning when they went to visit the PacWind facility in Torrance to talk with David Glawson ,the CTO of PacWind.

The big questions Dency and JR were looking to answer for Hermosa Beach building interests – did the turbines make any noise or cause any vibrations on the buildings they’re attached to?

The answer seems to be “no” – they’re silent and they don’t vibrate.

But the bigger question I had was how practical the systems are with the wind speeds and regularity we have in the South Bay.  The Sea Hawk claims to need only 5mph winds to generate usable electricity, but it needs steady winds of 24mph or more to live up to its potential to generate the 500 watts it’s rated for.

large1500 watts worth of solar panels – which would be 2-6 panels, depending on their wattage – would generate a lot more consistent electricity here in the South Bay.  But I’ll keep my eye on wind energy too.

I like Dency’s idea of installing these turbines atop tall poles on our South Bay piers where the winds are more forceful and regularly blowing.

Speaking of blowing –

I’m blowing out of here very early tomorrow morning, with the Reverend Ron alongside me, headed for my GRID Alternatives solar install in El Cajon.  Looking forward to telling you all about it.

5 thoughts on “The Greenius Goes Into Overdrive

  1. Get involved Big Joe! Good to see how busy you’re keeping yourself! I tried to sign up for the next Grid volunteer training in SD, but was rejected once again. How did you and Ron get in so quickly? Anyway, with a little time on my hands now, I’m looking to put more time (and effort) into the solar dream. Keep living it my friend!

    Shawn! Wish you were here with us. We just completed day one and it went smooth as ice. Used a sawsall for the first time, cutting rails and conduit. Was up on the roof helping to install rails all afternoon. Looking forward to hooking up with you upon our return and working with you.

  2. Hi. I wanted to thank you for the wonderful data you have posted on your site. I will definitely come back to check it out again and have subscribed to your RSS feed. Have a fantastic day, Greenius!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s